Attentive AI is a geospatial startup with a vision to create an accurate, constantly updating digital twin of our physical world. The company has developed artificially intelligent systems that analyze petabytes of geospatial imagery and convert it into accurate insights. Attentive AI aims to serve geospatial technology providers and end-users with 2D and 3D vector data extracted from satellite, aerial, street and drone imagery.

Shiva Dhawan, Founder, and CEO of Attentive AI talks with Sumedh Ghatage, Founder of Geospatial Awareness Hub, on the focus areas including geospatial startup ecosystem, open data policy and a successful case study of Attentive AI with HALO.

Sumedh: ​ Why the name Attentive AI? How Attentive AI started its journey towards geospatial technology?

Shiva: As the world’s population increases beyond 7 billion people, the number of problems our planet faces has drastically increased. Attentive AI was started with the firm belief that paying attention to the minutest natural and man-made changes occurring on our planet and taking preventive action is going to save our planet.

Attentive AI was founded in 2017 by an ex-IIT Delhi core team consisting of Shiva Dhawan, Utkarsh Sharma, and Sarthak Vijay. Our vision is to establish a geospatial platform that uses AI technology that can analyze petabytes of geospatial imagery on a daily basis and convert it into actionable insights. We started serving geospatial technology providers and end-users with 2D and 3D vector data extracted from satellite, aerial, street and drone imagery. Soon, we understood that there is a greater need in the market for not just vector base-maps but actionable decisions. Hence, we made it our mission to help convert data collected by satellites, airplanes, and drones into meaningful conclusions, and help businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations to make better decisions faster.

​ ​Sumedh: ​ How will you describe the Geospatial Startup ecosystem in India? (any pros & cons you observed as a geospatial startup?)

Shiva: With a large talent pool of engineers and data scientists, I would say that the geospatial startup ecosystem in India is buzzing. The past 2 years have seen plenty of innovative products and solutions being built, especially for global markets. What is unique is the diversity of the different business models being adopted. Some are launching satellites to help farmers, many are building drone-based solutions and others want to build AI solutions for all industries, across various data sources (like us).

The biggest con I see is that regulations around the use of geospatial technology in India still haven’t fully matured, limiting the innovation that has happened across organizations of our country. In fact, most successful geospatial startups prefer to have global customers to ensure steady cash flow. And because of this, customer awareness (in India specifically) around the latest technologies is limited. For eg., many people know the buzz words of ML and AI but very few truly understand the extent of what all it can do and what are the challenges. It is generally believed that AI itself is the solution to all problems. However, that is not true as it alone cannot provide a complete solution.

Sumedh: ​ Can you share a case study of a unique solution that you developed for a client or a partner?

Shiva: We recently worked with HALO Trust to build geospatial solutions for removing landmines and explosives in war-affected areas. Militants hide explosive hazards in the rubble of damaged buildings in war-torn areas and the HALO Trust’s mission is to identify such points all over these war-torn areas and carry out demining, however without geospatial context, it is very difficult and risky for

them to carry this out.

To help them, Attentive AI developed machine learning algorithms, that process satellite imagery and identifies the location of damaged buildings. This geodata is then used by HALO to mobilize ground teams to survey and clear the potential explosive sites. Access to accurate location data in a rapid timeframe, removal of bombs and IEDs in war-torn urban areas of Iraq is underway and is helping people to return home and start the rehabilitation process.

Sumedh: ​ How do you foresee the transformation in Open Data Policy in GIS for the upcoming 10 years?

Shiva: As the world around us understands how to use data in a better way, we are truly going to see the positive effects of Open Data Policy. Governments will need to weigh the pros and cons of sharing any data sources and the policy should only allow publishing of those GIS data sources whose positive effects far outweigh the potential negatives. Non-profit organizations/universities/communities would lead projects for the creation of such datasets and to keep them updated on a regular basis, the latter being the biggest challenge as it is expensive. Data expiry is a big issue and governments would also need to build policies to ensure the freshness of data for e.g. reward citizens/organizations that keep the data fresh.

Sumedh: ​ What do you think about the Geospatial Awareness Hub Movement? Any suggestions to create awareness about geospatial technology in different verticals of society?

Shiva: Geospatial Awareness Hub is doing a commendable job in the field of the geospatial industry, by encouraging geospatial professionals and aspiring young minds to understand the intricacies of the domain and to establish a working professional network. Such a network can have numerous benefits apart from the exchange of ideas, skills, and information. I wish Geospatial Awareness Hub all the best in their venture to connect the far-reaching ends of the geospatial world.

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